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Paul Tracy DANISON
Paris, France
Coach humanist
Interests: Human potential
Recent Activity
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Consul&Meshie©AnjaWeber Does your mind keep getting fogged up? Yes, mine, too. The fog’s why I keep a “memento mori” on or around me. I recommend it. When a thick bank of the opaque, cold, humid stuff rolls out of the wild wood and into my carefully cultivated garden, I clutch my memento mori and feel slightly saner. My memento reminds me to remember just exactly what I am, what my biology, years of psychoanalysis and honest on-the-spot self-assessment says of me and mine and what personal experience teaches me about the likelihood of unintended consequences no matter the choice of action made. Memento action may be slow, it may involve finishing a bottle when it’s not quite noon, it may involve discretely missing an appointment, but: “Some barbarian is waving my spear,” wrote the poet, “But I am here now, combing my hair.” What is good in the private human sphere is often good in the public human sphere as well, so I would like, very humbly, to propose that humanity adopt the performance piece Consul & Meshie as its global memento mori, also as its sacred icon of the Age of Aquarius. Perhaps Facebook could permanently fund Antonia Baehr, Latifa Laâbissi and Nadia Lauro, the piece’s creators and performers and its set designer. Google could provide free, itinerant, self-performing holograms anytime its universal detectors pick up the words “Let’s…” , “I have an idea…” or “Seriously, though… if…” . It was Nina Santes’ all-night, multi-part, multi-notion eco-feminism-inspired Fictions, une nuit en creation, that put Consul & Meshie in my way (social activist-artist Latifa Laâbissi’s controversial W.i.t.c.h.e.s., among other works) no doubt drew Santes’ attention in her programming decisions…) Fictions kicked off Santes’ 2019-20 stint as choreographer in residence at the Atelier de Paris-Carolyn. Her big night out, which also included a banquet, a cappella singing about death, a midnight walk in a wood seeded with dance vignettes, club dancing, mysteries, loud intimations of shamanism, art therapy and a comfy place to sack out, left me with Consul & Meshie lodged in the third eye, wondering about ecstasy, sacredness and dance. I recommend it. The chimpanzees Meshie, whose “human-like” behavior – affectionate and self-conscious – and Consul, whose highly-publicized shows of “civilized” living – baths, stimulants, car driving and beds – were marvels of their times. Their stories, complemented by the visual, dramatic and emotional effectiveness of the Antonia Baehr, Latifa Laâbissi and Nadia Lauro piece and proof, if it were needed, of their intellectual and artistic integrity. H.C. Raven, from 1921 until his death a Curator of Comparative Anatomy and a collector for American Museum of Natural History in New York, bought Meshie, a female, in 1930 during a visit to colonial Cameroun. There is a risibly Moses-in-the-bull-rushes air to his right-thinking contemporary narrative in the American Natural History Museums's Natural History: the purchase of white-scalped Meshie is clearly a rescue from darkest Africa's dusky hunters. Consul&Meshie©AnjaWeber The provenance of Consul, a male, is not known. An undated, unsourced... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
Grande Halle de la Villette (auditorium - instutition - park) Telephone +33 1 41 83 98 98 Address: 211 avenue Jean-Jaurès, 75019 Paris From Châtelet – Simplest: about 40 minutes : Métro Line 7 to the station Porte de Pantin, walk about 3 minutes. Google directions: (https://www.google.de/maps/dir/Chatelet,+Paris/Grande+halle+de+la+Villette,+Avenue+Jean+Jaur%C3%A8s,+Paris/@48.873795,2.3276145,13z/data=!4m15!4m14!1m5!1m1!1s0x47e66e1f05d5bc8b:0x3d397d9cdb6288ce!2m2!1d2.346958!2d48.859013!1m5!1m1!1s0x47e66dca22033c8b:0xae411bb4ada21c9e!2m2!1d2.39085!2d48.8910835!3e3!5i2?hl=en) Web site https://lavillette.com/en... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2019 at PARIS PERFORMANCE AGENDA
The run-up to Summer features many dance and dance performance and theater performance pieces that will figure in live programs into 2020. L’ILLUSTRE THEATRE DES FRERES SABBATINI - theater of objects • 2015 • Yannick Toussaint - Cie Histoire d'Eux • 30 minutes • Théâtre du Fil de l’eau –... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2019 at PARIS PERFORMANCE AGENDA
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“Carne y hueso” – Flesh and bone – Eva Yerbabuena’s most recent creation will feature in July at the 31st annual Festival Arte Flamenco, in the city of Mont de Marsan If there are accidents, I quite by accident met my friend Wan in the street the other evening. Wan... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2019 at PARIS PERFORMANCE AGENDA
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Photo©CédricSintes Old wine in new bottles: “My Milk is Better than Yours”, the old story of mother love in hip-hop style by Valentine Nagata-Ramos Hip-hop does a lot more than popularize, re-energize, enable and reference today's dance. The genre’s popularity and ability to generate esthetic energy is a translation of the primary and universal values of the liberal age: liberty, equality and solidarity. Is there still break-dancing in front of (the shell of) Notre Dame? If not, you can always find it in front of the Grande Halle de la Villette. Sometimes there are kids there who are so good it makes you cry to realize just how good a body in movement can be… Remember those “find stuff” puzzles for kids where they have to look for a person or thing hidden in a picture? The idea is to broaden and hone the visual imagination, I guess. I’m going to spend my summer (and Fall) doing broadening and honing my dance theory imagination, looking for hip hop in contemporary, modern and classic dance and dance performance and … in performance tout court. It might not be so easy to discern the hip-hop element in the Opéra Comique’s take on Manon – though, come to think of it, Puff Daddy and 50 Cent could easily have written the story of social anomie, megalomania, brutality and shallow avarice. However, as a first step, it will be child’s play, I think, to see hip-hop’s – esthetic, cultural and social – universality in the program of Festival XX sur 20 (“Twenty on 20- 100%- Festival). Child’s play, too, to see in Valentine Nagata-Ramos’ lively and lovely My Milk is Better than Yours just how good hip-hop is at the essential human itch to tell stories. FESTIVAL XX SUR 20 • 2019 • François Lamargot & cie XXème Tribu • Day-long • Maison de la culture et de la jeunesse (MJC) Hauts de Belleville, Friday and Saturday, 28 & 29 June, 2019 "Twenty/20" is dancer and choreographer François Lamargot’s tribute to the Hauts de Belleville neighborhood and to the Maison de jeunesse et de la culture (MJC). Hauts de Belleville, which is a part of the bigger Belleville neighborhood, is in the 20th arrondissement and, mostly, still a place where ordinary folk can afford to live, at least if they’ve already got a roof over their heads. The Hauts de Belleville MJC in particular and MJCs in general are a type of secular YMCA, present throughout France, town and country together, an outgrowth of the movement for popular and youth education, which began at the beginning of the 20th century. Children in my own 11th arrondissement neighborhood use their local MJC for activities ranging from ballet to fencing to karate to singing to fun-tilted science and arts education. Hauts de Belleville is where François Lamargot grew up and its MJC is where he learned to dance hip-hop. Also where he and his friends founded their performance troupe cie XXème Tribu. Lamargot, who’s now worked... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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PhotoCourtesy©Printempsdeladansearabe “Soyons fous” by the Comorese-French hip-hop group Cie Tché-za combines traditional African dance, modern, contemporary and urban dance performance to tell a political tale for liberty, equality and solidarity … Saburo Teshigawara closes the Atelier de Paris’ June Events 2019. Teshigawara’s rendition, with Rihoko Sato, of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot last year at the Palais de Chaillot left Karine wiggling excitedly in her seat and me with tears in my eyes. Karine wiggled mostly, she tells me, because she agrees with Rihoko Sato that Teshigawara’s dance is unique and incomparable – a reflection of the choreographer’s insistence on the dancer’s coming to terms with his or her body in its particular environment before entering into the performance dancing. Karine loves straight-up balletic-style dance and the duo of Teshigawara and Sato did straight-up dance to perfection. I got teary because Teshigawara showed me Prince Myshkin, the hero of The Idiot, as I had felt him when I was 15 years old. Teshigawara was able to make Karine wiggle like an excited six-year old and do me like he did is because, I think, his choreographic accent is on performance – sense, posture, gesture – more than dance – accent, roughly, on: body, rhythm, sensibility. It’s not just the uniqueness of Teshigawara’s particular style, it’s performance that carries The Idiot forward, not dance. And, ‘though Karine is often right and currently hotly disputes this judgement on Teshigawara’s choreography, just as she disputes my judgement on Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s mind-blowing (Afternoon of a) Faun, as surely as Liberty is the Genius of the Bastille, performance is the Genius of hip-hop. Photo©BenjaminFavratCND2018 Hip-hop is so pervasive it no longer need be intentional and may be found where least expected. Daniel Larrieu’s renewal of “Chiquenades”, which he created then danced with Pascale Houbin and Michèle Prélonge for the Concours de Bagnolet (the precursor to Rencontres chorégraphiques) in 1982 and “Romance en stuc” featured at Avignon in 1985, are part of the offering Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales 2019 So, bluntly, I’m saying, without wanting to make a blunt declaration: hip-hop is as much a part of the secret of Teshigawara’s choreographic mastery as it is of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s. I’m saying much the same thing about hip-hop and dance today when I say performance pushes the programs for June Events at the Atelier de Paris - Carolyn Carlson or for Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales en Seine Saint Denis 2019, for Occupation#3 at Théâtre de la Bastille and … for the 10e Biennale internationale des arts de la marionnette – “Tenth International marionnette festival”. What I’ve said to Karine’s hot counter-arguments is a rather dry “Open your eyes”. What I tell her further is that if she’s opening her eyes wide and not seeing it, she’s missing another proof of the breadth, depth and pervasiveness of the African-American contribution to world culture. Hip-hop popularity and physical performance standards put new life into old, and modern, and contemporary, choreographic wines. The energy and freshness of Cherkaoui’s (Afternoon of a) Faun... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Photo©FlorianRainer Signs & portents A joint effort by Théâtre de la Bastille & Atelier de Paris-Carolyn Carlson enabled Simon Mayer to tell the naked truth about folk dance with his sublimely absurd “Sunbengsitting” performance piece Not dragons snaking through the northern skies, exactly, but there are signs and portents of a rich pre-Summer dance and performance offering to mull over during the long vacation. For instance, the programs for June Events at the Atelier de Paris - Carolyn Carlson, Rencontres choégraphiques internationales en Seine Saint Denis 2019 and Occupation 3 at Théâtre de la Bastille and … the 10e Biennale internationale des arts de la marionnette – “Tenth International marionnette festival”. What threads dance, performance and puppetry (theater of objects) on the same necklace is object: subject as object, object as subject, the thing outside and the thing inside, myself and the material world. Chekhov says that if you bring a pistol on stage, you have to eventually stop talking and use the damned thing. Dance, performance and puppetry do just that, using movement to explore me-here and this-there. Théâtre de la Bastille in joint production with Atelier de Paris-Carolyn Carlson has recently presented a strong contemporary dance-performance offer. Expressionist movement pieces – including Hard to be soft, Oona Doherty’s gritty-real evocation of the emotional rigidity behind Northern Ireland’s “ troubles”, Shira Eviatar’s Body Roots/rising, recalling Israel’s multicultural heritage through a family portrait and Arab dance, Simon Mayer’s Sunbengsitting, a parody of (Austrian) folk dance and Nina Santes’ Photo©UrbanJörén Signs & portents Choreographers and performers of the quality of Eleanor Bauer and Ballet Cullberg (“Near”) are part of the dance-performance bill for Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales en Seine Saint Denis 2019, 17 May – 22 June plunge into archaic consciousness (Santes’ Hymen hymne is a happening as happenings should have been) – were themed around personal identity. Bastille continues what is essentially a performance program through June with “Occupation 3”, featuring creator Nathalie Béasse, essentially performance pieces done through the tradition of theater (rather than dance) that fold together the artist’s past, present and future with herself, her audience, performers and associated light and sound creators. Photo©WilfriedThierry Signs & portents Nathalie Béasse’s performance piece "Happy Child" uses theatric tradition to explore the artist’s past, present and future work. “Occupation 3” -Théâtre de la Bastille, 13 May -29 June, 2019 Since I personally like the dance pieces of so many of the creators, it may only be prejudice, but Rencontres chorégraphiques 2019 seems stronger this year than previously in what I have to call “straight” dance-performance – these days only a hip-hop billing guarantees an hour of hot shimmy. Choreographers and dance performers of the quality of Radhouane El Meddeb, Ballet Cullberg with Eleanor Bauer, the choreography-music team Liz Santoro & Pierre Godard, Daniel Linehan, Daniel Larrieu and David Wampach grace the festival’s program. So I reckon this year it is dance – focus, roughly, on: body, rhythm, sensibility – rather than performance that has carried the day for the successor to... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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The visual diversity of the Ballet national du Rhin’s company is a part of the success of Rhadouane El Meddeb’s emotional reshape of “Swan Lake”. Note the tutus still on the racks (right background) When I was still constrained to see myself as just another bratty and ungrateful mouth to feed, left cheek sunk in left palm, I daydreamed a lot: of Alan Ginsberg’s radical demand for a paid up “I am”*, of boys like girls and girls like boys but-different-hey-ho, of revolution, of the national anthem on a djembe, of a Swan Lake in underpants. We brats used to snicker about underpants. It was a way of ripping off grampa’s whalebone collar, declaring Liberty Hall. All devoutly-wished daydreams eventually come true. In a properly lived life, snickers eventually give way to a lightness of being. Marvelously true; deliciously light. El Meddeb’s “Swan Lake” takes its inspiration from Nureyev’s 1986 interpretation of the classic Radhouane El Meddeb’s Swan Lake is proof of it. His piece catches the diverseand various performers of the Ballet national du Rhin in a gorgeous state of undress, just beside their racked tutus. He sets them undone, by no means untutored, to perform the essential lightness of Swan Lake: a stirring choreography of sensibility against sentiment, there-and-then against here-and-now, seeming against be.El Meddeb’s take works wonderfully well with the public. Seated next to me was an athletic teenaged girl whose intelligent boldness had struck me, so I talked to her. She said she was at a circus performer school and pointed to her classmates seated all around. How did she like Swan Lake? It was the first ballet she’d ever seen – her eyes shone. It was wonderful, she said. El Meddeb’s Swan Lake, inspired, the performance note says, by Nureyev’s1986 Paris Ballet version, played in March at the Palais de Chaillot, as part of the very creatively successful Printemps de la danse arabe#1 program. “Original silence” among the coffee cups Printemps performances that rival Swan Lake in vision and intelligence include, just to name three outstanding pieces among at least eight excellent ones, Kawa, Aïcha M’Barek and Hafiz Dhaou’s brilliant piece around coffee, “the original silence”; Soyons fous, by Cie Tché-za, an (ironic) appeal to the curative power of madness; and Portray and Walking, sweet pieces by Shaymaa Shoukry that reinvest ordinary body movement with soul. Kawa is pure body poetry made of slow thrust, tinkles, rustles and half-light set to music… or is the music set to it? Though conceived with a boldly political theme in mind, Soyons fou is fine and disciplined contemporary dance shaping hip hop’s fureur divin. The dance troupe’s name, “Tché-za”, means “Comorian Urban Dance”. Upcoming events of Printemps de la danse arabe#1 will include work-in-progress by Danya Hammoud and Näss (Folks) by Fouad Boussouf presented at the Atelier de Paris as part of its June Events dance festival and work by the Sareyyet Ramallah dance school at the CND-Centre national de la danse, in the near-suburb of Pantin. Both... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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ORLY has all the elements typical of the “chanson française” including, typically, un poète urgent, un pianist en transit and un sorcier souffleur, but ORLY also has charm and that je-ne-sais-pas-trop that makes you listen. Enjoy “S’Éclipser” means “slip away”, which I had, because of a tempting sweet cake, never mind what kind of cake. When I saw it, I knew that, were it larded with mold, if I stuck around, I would eat it, so I slipped away. This was in Avignon, during the performing arts festival last year It’s interesting how the two languages have come to use “eclipse”, whose origin is Conquest French, and continues to mean “become obscure” in both. In French, however, bugging out implies hiding. In English, on the other hand, making yourself scarce brings to mind letting go, relaxing the grip on the mooring cable, slipping toward freedom or madness, take your pick. Which reminds me – reminds me with the force of a sugar crisis – that there’s more than difference between languages. There’s especially the own-genius of a language that makes the language itself, which makes these lines from Athur Rimbaud’s Mauvais Sang, wonderful in French, J’ai de mes ancêtres gaulois l’oeil bleu blanc, la cervelle étroite, et la maladresse dans la lutte. Je trouve mon habillement aussi barbare que le leur. Mais je ne beurre pas ma chevelure. Les Gaulois étaient les écorcheurs de bêtes, les brûleurs d’herbes les plus ineptes de leurs temps. D’eux, j’ai : l’idolâtrie et l’amour du sacrilege; – oh! Tous les vices, colère, luxure, - magnifique, la luxure – surtout mensonge et paresse… but, both in rhythm and sense, vaguely risible in English, “From my ancestors the Gauls I have the blue-white eye, the narrow skull, am clumsy in wrestling. My dress is as savage. But I don’t butter my hair. / The Gauls were the most handless beast-flayers and grass burners of their times. From them, I have: idolatry and love of sacrilege; - O! All the vices, anger, lust – marvelous, lust – especially falsehood and sloth… “ O! Believe your ears! Mauvais sang is truly magnifique: Léo Ferré sings Une saison en enfer. Mauvais sang starts at 2.20. If after a good listen you don’t feel like exorcising the Panthéon and pissing on your father’s ashes, write to the editor for your money back. So, when people talk of a chanson française, for instance, it’s not the same as when they talk of “French literature” or even “French songs” or “French music” and certainly not of the lexical field of “Mauvais sang”, which should be allowed to call up Taylor Swiftian “Bad Blood”. They are talking about a specific chanson française, representing the own-genius of the language they speak, that peculiar quality of the combination of the sound and sense of French. It is this un-differentiable quality that makes Arthur Rimbaud a poet of songs or makes Léo Ferré a singer of poems. I don’t know of anything like la chanson française... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Photo: Courtesy LePrintempsArabedeladanse#1 It cheered me up when I saw the press release announcing the Le Printemps de la danse arabe#1 – The Arab Spring of Dance #1. Le Printemps means to be the first in an annual celebration featuring cutting edge contemporary dance and performance in the Arab Middle East and North Africa. This first year will feature traditional, contemporary and hip hop choreographers and performers from Egypt, Palestine, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia and the Comoros for three months of dance, new-style circus and other live performance in some of Paris’ most interesting venues. The news cheered me up because I’m with Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic philosopher, Thomas Wolf and the sergeant of my former platoon. Everything does flow, you never step into the same river twice, you can’t go home again and we know we’re somewhere, a destination and a beginning, when we get there. Also, keep an eye on where you put your feet. Dance, the “art of movement”, speaks these ineffable truths. Le Printemps de la danse arabe#1 is a somewhere that we’ve finally got to. The Charonne metro station, on the number 9 métro line, its history and my experience in and around it, make up a part of the cheery feeling. A plaque in the station now reminds voyageurs that Charonne was the final destination for eight left-wing demonstrators. They were demanding justice for Algeria and Algerians and were killed, heads bashed in or suffocated, in a frightful 8 February 1962 police riot. From Charonne station, Karine set out for and returned from the 1986 rue de Rennes record shop bombing by somebody demanding justice for somebody in Lebanon; from Charonne in 1995 I set out for and returned from an RER B in which somebody, maybe an Algerian agent provocateur, exploded a gas bottle filled with nails, maybe trying to get me to hate Algerian Islamists and support French intervention; coming up the stairs from the Photo: ©Mario Jarweh “Et si demain”, ("And tomorrow?") a reflection on war by Nidal Abdo (Collectif Nafass) Charonne station, I heard the news of the September 2001 massacres by some Saudi Arabians who felt obliged to deliver justice to America by spectacularly murdering people working in the World Trade Center. The drive-by mass murders of November 2015 began, apparently, just a block down the way from the Charonne station, at La Belle Equipe. All this brings to mind how lucky I and mine are. Also, it brings to mind the Grande Mosquée de Paris, a place of memory also. A noble complex, with its origins in the annexation of Algeria to France in 1846 but only completed in 1926, the Mosquée was the first mosque I ever went into. When it was chic for the women in the neighborhood to go to the Mosquée’s hamman (sauna), Karine used to go there, too. Picking Karine up at the Mosquée sometimes gave me an excuse for little walks through the Jardin des Plantes, which I liked a lot then and like... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Photo: ©unedanseparjour/unejoiesecrète:courtesyagenceelektonlibre She claimed she was quitting but Nadia Vadori-Gauthier continues her one-minute dances – at this writing, she’s done a bit more than 1500, a full day plus an hour – since she began her ritual in the bewildered grief and defiance that followed the Charlie Hebdo mass murder of satirists by religious fanatics in January 2015. There was always more than just marking the feelings of the moment in Vadori-Gauthier choreography – an effort to look again at Paris. Apart from being lively and lovely, Jérôme Cassou’s film Une Joie Secrète: Danser, un acte quotidien de résistance poétique, (“Hidden Joy: dancing, a daily act of poetic resistance”). Joie Secrète succeeds in discerning some new patches in the Paris patchwork and a new way of fitting Paris people into the urban esthetic. I say “Paris people” instead of “Parisian” because Vadori- Gauthier’s people are more witness than actor. In color, then, Joie secrete shows a Paris “harlequin” and, in among the stone, steel and glass of street and building, people. undefined In color. Joie Secrète shows that Paris’ urban fabric has been, is being, significantly nicked, slapped and splashed with bursts and dashes of primary color. Asked straight up after the screening, Vadori-Gauthier denied scenarizing them. As she says, she was responding to a cache of primary colors in the landscape, a lot of which, if not all, are from the decades-long accumulation of hard-plastic urban furnishings – think metro seats or trash bins but also all manner of coverings, frames, signs and electronic info boards as well as flowers and more adventurous taste in house paint. If you care to look, the primary-color harlequin Vadori-Gauthier is pointing to is there in the places and spaces, waiting, maybe, for its Caillebote. Photo: ©unedanseparjour/unejoiesecrète:courtesyagenceelektonlibre In people. Set in ordinary places in the central city, Vadori-Gauthier’s short choreographies – those in Cassou’s film and those that are not – show a strong, not to say, unusual, complicity of performance with place. If most places are recognizable to someone who knows the city fairly well, Vadori-Gauthier isn’t dancing them, highlighting them, using the recognition value, like say Woody Allen does. Rather, her performances show her fitting into those places, inhabiting them rather than using them. The 2015 Charlie Hebdo and November 13 mass murders were seen as trying to drive people out of the city, take over. It makes sense that on one level Vadori-Gauthier’s Une minute de danse par jour is about owning and keeping the city, in the same way as the march for the Republic – “We belong here and we are not afraid”. But the Joie Secrète take on Vadori-Gauthier’s one-minute of dance suggests that the idea of “being part of the city” goes beyond ownership or citizenship. As those sad mass-murderers reminded the world, ownership and citizenship can be disputed and even taken away, they are subjective and political, not objective and real. Photo: ©unedanseparjour/unejoiesecrète:courtesyagenceelektonlibre If we make people part of the décor, as much a part... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Photo: ©PatrickBerger Three minutes into the performance of Ashley Chen’s dance performance piece Rush, he’s got you very pleasurably scrambling to make sense of it – wanting to rush along with him, wanting to find out where he’s going, wanting even to get there before he gets there for the deviltry of it. Yet Rush is just two guys who begin by standing at opposite corners of a stage area with five old amplifier speakers scattered between them. These last scratch out tiny scraps of ultra-recognizable 20th-century pop hits that sometimes cue mood and sometime cue scraps of performer movement. At first, like some old bull confused by the trickery of the matador, I swung my head back and forth, trying to think up a narrative strategy to let me charge one then get at the other. Right, back stage, one guy was playing with little bits of projected pop-hit lyrics. Left front stage, the other guy was doing nothing much other than wearing a pale rose polo shirt over blue twill pants. His opposite number wore a lightly lime green polo shirt over blue twill pants. Unable to settle, I fixed center stage and watched both rose and lime from the edge of my bull’s eye. I think I had then understood that although pale rose and light lime were different, they had the same essential value and were central to understanding what happened only when viewed as marginal. Which in itself gives food for general thought. undefined I watched the tableau unfold. At first, like two unsynchronized pendulum gears, the blue twill pair, spiritually separated by polo shirt, swung past each other. The more they swung, the more they synchronized, the less it mattered which polo-shirt was which. Also, as the guys became more undifferentiated, my visual center filled up with sound and feeling: those scraps of scratchy pop hit that the lime-green polo shirt had been at projecting at the beginning of the performance. I was worn by the contrasting bits of feeling of memory and of feeling of feeling embedded in each scrap, wanted to grab on and hear each through, felt frustrated. Meanwhile, as they came together into my center, my eyes strained to hold on to rose and lime’s intense swinging up to wind down to be wound up again, physical mimicry of my feeling of feeling, wanting and frustration… the Pogo now awake in me glances up from the feeling of memory: We have met the enemy and he is us. Ashley Chen says that Rush’s variable speeds, the exhaustive swing, go round and crossing of pale rose and light lime, the bits of hit and subtle lighting open a window onto the empty hurry and material need of contemporary life. Surely. But what really is indisputable for me is that as a choreographer, director and performer, Ashley Chen takes performance seriously: Rush is not only an intention, a scenario and a choreography, it is a successful working meditation on drama and performance.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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undefined With dancer Shantala Shivalingappa and musician Loïc Schild’s fascinating performance of choreographer and scenographer Aurélien Bory’s Ash, La Scala-Paris continues developing a trademark tone and style, mixing cutting edge contemporary performance with a sharp eye to esthetics and popular entertainment value. Ash has six virtuouso performers: two people, two sets, a central-stage prop and a scenography: dancer Shantala Shivalingappa, who caresses in the air before the center with figures by her hands and body; the front-stage space transformed by Shivalingappa’s feet; musician-performer Loïc Schild, who fills the air around with tones and variegated beat; the space occupied by Schild’s synthethizer-percussion machine; an elaborate mandala-like center-stage that molts both in color and mood, and form and suggestion; Bory’s spectator-triggered scenographic choreography. Teasing and scintillating, center-stage seems sometimes to be of the air, sometimes of the earth, sometimes of the sea, sometimes of fire. But its shaping does not also shape the performers or props around it. In its image, these remain virtuosos, unoccupied and un-occupying. With a body moving as water flows, Shivalingappa performs Kuchipudi-inspired classic Indian dance and, though in front of the center, remains always within her own space, with a distinct identity. With her feet she creates a tracing of her movement. Schild’s music, like Shivalingappa intimately close to the center, makes percussive tones in the air. These, like the dancer’s steps are alone in their own space. The dings, pings and tinkles happen as play happens, becoming short-lived arpeggios and breathy riffs and staying in the space above Schild’s machine just for the second it takes to detonate tinily and disappear. This virtuosity is emphasized by a verticality in the stage design and in the dance of Shivalingappa, which seems to attach a sky-reaching upper body to a perch-like pelvis on legs. Bory’s scenography arranges the proximities, positions and movements of the five other performers, rattling them around inside his feelings for audience expectation. undefined Then, radiating from an increasing intensity in Shivalingappa’s dance, the scenography uses the searching movement of the spectator’s eye to pluck out a choreography that suggests that the stage is a single sacred space and the performers in it instruments of this sacredness. The choreography hones sound until it is music, shapes movement until it is dance and turns the stage set into a place. By magic, spectator eyes transform the center stage from, first, the “point of sense” to a mandala-like image then to a “sacred center”, then to an “altar”. Tracings of Shivalingappa’s feet, at first lines and squiggles, suggest now the emergence of the labyrinth of the Christ-rose, a counterpoint, by proximity and expectation, to the sacred center. Schild’s sounds and space are seen to play to the altar in the same way that Shivalingappa’s dance seems to address it. Making “sense” coheres Schild’s percussion seem into a music that accompanies, even leads, the transformative movement of the “sacred space” of the “altar”. All performers, however much expectation harnesses their sense to the center, remain virtuoso, each with... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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undefined It’s been 7 hours and 15 days since you look your love away/ Since you’ve been gone I can do whatever I want/I can see whomever I choose/I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant/Put my arms around any girl I see/ But nothing I said nothing can take away these blues/'Cause nothing compares/Nothing compares to you Nothing compares to u, Prince Rogers Nelson (Sinead O’Connor) It’s the “7 hours” that gets me. I wake after four or five hours. She is sitting on my chest, her pubis somehow pressing hard on my breast bone, looking down into my face, occupying my interior commentary. I start counting the hours. I remember only later that I’ve been doing this same half-lit heart-crush now for better than two weeks. This isn’t the only sort of vaguely psychotic repetitive behavior I can get absorbed in. Since the 1980s, I have seen Georg Buchner’s Léonce & Léna and Woyzeck whenever I’ve noticed one or the other’s being staged Paris intra-muros. Léonce & Léna and Woyzeck started getting regular play in the early 70s, just as I did, perhaps taking the place of the Situationist International. Both pieces have Ur-propos that can be welded into almost any post-1968 conundrum. For love (or is it duty? Or lust? Or congenital idocy?) Private Woyzeck, otherwise a barber, makes himself a guinea pig to a heartless doctor and a slave to a thoughtless hussar. Prince Léonce and Princess Léna both run away from personally untenable situations. Love or its material equivalent is out there, somewhere, but neither Léonce, nor Léna, nor Woyzeck can hide from the tragedy of the situation they were born into. I was to the MC93 – Maison de Culture of Seine Saint Denis – for a ninth anniversary performance of Alan Platel’s Out of Context for Pina (Bausch), on the evening before the foggy ragged Sunday afternoon I went to see Léonce & Léna at the Théâtre des Amandiers in Nanterre, to the west of Paris. Nanterre is the town where`68 broke out, where Situationism bore fruit, where Daniel Cohn-Bendit tapped his finger on a 500-page report on youth and observed that there wasn’t a word about sex in the whole damned thing. ‘Though that moment has been obscured by memory, the tear gas, strikes and street fighting and politics, everything that has really mattered, I think everything that’s happened since then, proves that sex and gender has mattered far more than anything else. undefined The MC93 made a perfect setting for a tenth anniversary performance of Alan Platel’s Out of Context for Pina (Bausch), which included all the original cast members. Pina Bausch, died suddenly of smoking-related cancer in June 2009, though the piece is for her, not in her memory. If you’ve seen Bausch’s inimitable choreography you’ll see why that must necessarily be so. There’s a lot of memory in the MC93, an angular bare-concrete slab building, located on the boulevard Lénine in a place called Bobigny. Thanks to Charles... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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undefined Karine frowned as, to hide her doubt, she looked down into her wine glass. The wine was white. This was after ten in the evening. As I see it, nightmare’s original recipe. She took a false sip. She’s never been crazy, so she never does really understand how terrifyingly uncomfortable living in one’s skin may be. Though usually on the money, the importance of some things may escape her. We were meeting for a drink at la Comète, whose street sign looks like the emoji; I had just seen the CCN-Ballet de Lorraine’s Plaisirs inconnus (https://vimeo.com/269886819), (something like “Fresh pleasures”), at Palais de Chaillot – the Théâtre National de Danse. The idea of the piece was to put the accent on the performance (and its dancers) by hiding the names of the programs’s five well-known choreographers as well as its stage, lighting and costume designers. The Ballet’s artistic director Petter Jacobsson says that anonymity reduces the affect of expectation. Onlookers might be able to renew the pleasure of first meeting with the choreographers by meeting them anew in the dancers. I counted nine segments in one hour and fifteen minutes of program; at beginning and end, the stage was bisected with a thick check transparent plastic curtain of contemporary colors; otherwise light. The idea seemed to add depth and breadth to the stage: a lot of womb space for the performance. Unlike many people around me seemed to, I didn’t recognize any choreographic style and did not feel teased. But then I never can do. I never can put my finger on the music either, even the most well known. Anyhow, I said to Karine as I sat down, the river is never twice: live performance is to get the new as new is made in the mix of performers, place, set, onlookers, weather and the crowd on the streets bus and metro. What seemed to me to be a mocking Bolero was really nice, because the humor let some real sensuality filter through – why Bolero, a march suitable to snappy uniforms, jackboots and feral shouts, is considered erotic has always been beyond me. A march recalls us to duty, perhaps, when we are bloody sick of our usual sex partner? But, “Karine”, I said, just as my pint was delivered to the table, “The very best segment of the dance for me was three couples, two slightly in the back and one in front – Perhaps it was a tribute to American musical-style dance? Made me think of that”. The hands and arms of the front couple came so close as they sought each other that I thought, Well, that’s really as close as you ever get, isn’t it? “Just to the point where skin galvanism makes potential lovers aware that resistance starts where desire flowers”, I told her. “Then the man and the woman began to dance. The woman fell, tripped. She was a charged wave shaping into her beloved’s orbit. And he, Karine, he was... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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- Photo ©Joachim Olaya Marion Lévy has perhaps invented a new comic commonplace: “Pursue that excellence, Pangloss!” I hope she has. Without the antidote of laughter, Panglossism will kill us more surely than the ungainly truths it always seeks to deny.Training, by Marion Lévy, was presented by the Festival Faits d’hiver at the Carreau du Temple in January 2019 And too much of nothing
/Can make a man a liar /It can 'cause one man to sleep on nails
/It can 'cause others to eat fire
/Everybody's doin' somethin'
/I heard it in a dream
/But when there's too much of nothing
/It just makes a fella mean/Say hello to Valerie,/Say hello to Karine/ send them all my salary on the waters of oblivion. – Too Much of Nothing, Bob Dylan (Peter, Paul & Mary) Marion Lévy’s Training performance piece doesn’t have enough monologue to be stand up but is physical enough for comedy; it’s in the lineage of silent film, Charlie Chaplin tossing and twirling that globe or Buster Keaton putting up that Sears Roebuck house – when the body had to tell a story as well as act as a foil for emotions other than desire. I went walking with Karine last Sunday – Beelzebub, can she promenade! Last Sunday alone, arm-in-arm under more than occasional douches of freezing rain, from the Eiffel Tower rive gauche to the Institut du Monde Arabe then from Pont Marie rive droite to the Eiffel Tower. AlI along the route we took, we clung to each other; I clung to Karine. Sometimes, Karine laid her head on my shoulder. The cloud of her hair was delicious. She has recently changed it from silver blonde to jet black; it is brittler than ever: little shards of it mixed in the needle-sharp freezing spray pissing into my face from the grey grey cap of boiling cloud above. When I forced myself to look up, used my eyes, took the glacial rain in my face, I saw that cracks and fissures on high tore out a thin ragged line of horizon back lit in neon-white. When I finally could, I told Karine that when I saw that pale light once before long ago, I decided to stay here forever. Karine replied that she wants to live forever, though she added that it isn’t very likely. I put my arm around her waste and pulled her as close as I could. This vigorous, almost mad, walk provoked thoughts of my upbringing. I was shaped a Panglossian Positivist. A Panglossian forces him- or herself to believe – and righteously forces others to believe – that everything is going for the best in the best of all possible worlds, that there is nothing behind the curtain and that, if some impetuous little dog proves the contrary, the humbug that puffs and stiffens the great and powerful Oz is meant only for my good. Contrary to what you might think, Panglossianism is tough-minded and unforgiving in proportion as everything must be just fine. Panglossism denies... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Photo: Sydney Dance Theater Cheng Tsung-lung’s lovely "Full Moon" at the Palais de Chaillot was part of the Sydney Dance Theater’s performance 2018 offer. As an experience, Cheng’s performance is as brilliant a non-verbal version of the dream-essences of Midsummer Night’s Dream as a spectator is likely to find Some years ago, when I first knew her, Karine leaned a little across the table we were at and asked me if I thought of her as different. She and I didn’t share culture or nationality or gender or background experience. Is that difference? I won’t say she coquettishly shook back her tight blond curls when she said it; I won’t say that when I hear “difference” I am ready to think some sort of demand for special consideration is on the way. The right to bore me, for instance, or the right to speak frankly about my failings. But also, I loved Karine. Above all, that the woman knows that, for me, our hearts beat as one. I told her, No, I didn’t think her different. She exploded with indignation, demanding, yes, demanding, that I take into account her difference. Was she about to end our relation? A claim of difference is really a claim for a different relation, right? Difference means changing the relations of the all the subjects and objects involved: Karine and me, for example, or me and anybody, or anybody and everybody or everyone and everybody. Also, when are we not different? When is there no difference? When we are dead, when we are all truly equal, that’s when. I saw Gluck’s Orpheus & Eurydice the other day. It underlined the point. The glory of Hell is its un-differentiation. No bumps or hard edges in the underworld. That smooth homogeneity of death is why Gluck’s Eurydice is reluctant to leave without some assurance that Orpheus’ love will soften the 400 coups of the new life to come. A “Chinese approach”, I thought – genre, “moon above hills”, where the onlooker contemplates the object’s essential identity through its multiple and diverse reproduction When I regained countenance, I pretended to listen intently. I grabbed her hand – and a fine, dry, cool hygienic-soap-roughened hand Karine’s hand is. Yegods! I clumsily rasped it across my unshaven cheek. I swore that difference was all my study. But aside from knowing that uncountable differences establish Karine’s being and mine, I don’t know much, really. Except maybe now that expecting difference might, as may all expectation, mislead. The terrible moment of Karine’s demand for difference, the KDD, came to mind when – quite by chance – I saw Cheng Tsung-lung’s lovely Full Moon at the Palais de Chaillot last year, as part of the Sydney Dance Theater’s offering. I was at the time – quite deliberately – researching millennial choreographer Yu-Ju Lin, trying to understand Sponge, her first piece to get wide attention in Europe. Sponge was a featured piece at Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales en Seine Saint-Denis 2018. Thumbing through the program,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Cold Blood: Photo©JulienLambert03122015-JL-5187.jpg It turns out that “You don’t need language to understand it” about a performance piece is just as true as that other cliché I once doubted, “He done drank himself to death”. I learned the refulgent truth of the latter just recently, when my friend Udo cashed out, and that of the former, when I saw Michèle Anne de Mey & Jaco van Dormael’s Cold Blood at La Scala Paris. To acquire truth, both clichés require real-time application of a thorough mastery of storyline, stage mechanics, scenario and direction by cast and management. The thing itself must be of a piece from start to finish. For his part, Udo had a snoot full from the moment when nobody could any longer knock the bottle out from between his lips right up to the moment he groaned, slipped his fleshless hand under the sweat-soaked pillow, scrabbled for the greasy flask that held sweet liquor’s most fatal drop, gulped with bobbing Adam’s apple and promptly shuffled off the mortal coil: He done drank himself to death”. The cast and direction of Cold Blood get it as right as Udo. Each and every body and every thing and every gesture of the performance enables each cast member to seamlessly shine in synchrony with all the rest. As with Udo, it’s impossible to tell where idea-special effects-, originators; light-, set-, machine-designers and directors, performers, technicians and stage hands begin or end their collective exercises. It’s all of a single piece, a seamless execution of intent, right up to denouement, which surpasses Udo’s in that all players walk away with an appetite. Cold Blood: Photo©JulienLambert-JL-8201.jpg “You don’t need language to understand it”: Seamless means wordlessly effective as well as “of a piece”. Thomas Gunzig’s text rings like one of those storied tolling bells from Cold Blood’s complex ballet of Lego & Hollywood. Players, performers, dolly guys, hands, managers, cameras, projectors, boom microphones, special effects, multi-mini-sets, hand-work and cinematography show the seven ways to die as effectively as a prayer book might lay out the seven deadly sins. You don’t need words to understand Cold Blood any more than you need them to understand whether your dance partner fits your arms or not. Succeeding on every level, including the French language, hypnosis, understanding of mid-20th century esthetics and special effects, irony, literary theory & practice, dancing, acting and knowing what really counts in life, Cold Blood is the second in a performance triptych directed by Anne de Mey & Jaco van Dormael at La Scala Paris, following on Kiss & Cry and to be followed by Amor. All three pieces have had previous international success. In featuring performances skillfully inventive enough to be unclassifiable and unclassifiable enough to go beyond entertainment and entertaining enough to really enchant an audience, La Scala Paris, which opened last year, is shaping up as one good place to see contemporary performance at its best. You can also eat dinner there. Hope it’s a trend. Cold Blood, directed... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Photo©Martin Argyroglo From “Forme Simple”, around the Goldberg variations by performer, choreographer and professor Loïc Touzé at the Atelier de Paris-Carolyn Carlson I’ve always liked the expression haut comme trois pommes. It means “rather (darlingly) little”. Haut comme trois pommes –three apples high – always comes to my mind with little kids, the ones between one-and a half or two and four – just learning the basics of troubling the world with long stares, grunts of restless effort, crawling, grabbing, stumbling, holding, walking, a regard, a coo that becomes a burble that becomes a brook that becomes a stream that becomes a river of words that becomes, splash, whizz-bang: a person. A person haut comme trois pommes. Sometimes, these little pommes are of a noos not canny, something I was reminded of when I was sitting at a picnic table at the Cartoucherie – in June? I was waiting to see a dance performance put on by the Atelier de Paris-Carolyn Carlson. It must have been June, because at the Cartoucherie, formerly a gunpowder and bullet factory situated behind the Parc floral de Paris and made famous by Ariane Mnouchkine’s innovative Théâtre du Soleil, I – or you – can sit outside under the trees, eat and drink nice food and build a good time. The Atelier de Paris’ different stages and studios are dug and plugged into or shared with the Cartoucherie. The Cartoucherie, formerly a gunpowder and bullet factory situated behind the Parc floral de Paris, houses the Atelier de Paris-Carolyn Carlson. A little bit of country at the end of the city bus line Also, before the program begins, you can hone your powers of observation by staring at people. Honing my own powers of observation is how I happened to see the flaming-red-haired kid haut comme trois pommes, Hans im Glück – straight out of Grimm. Honestly, at hardly two-foot tall, Lucky Hans was too small to join with the mixed group of pre-teens and daddies on the make-do soccer field away to the right. All on his own, this prodigy of human development was positively riding a full-size soccer ball through rough grass and battered playground stuff. Memory! I could only have observed Lucky Hans outside in nice weather, so I was certainly at the Atelier for last year’s edition of the annual June Events dance performance program. Was it maybe for Daniel Léveillé’s Quatuor Tristesse? Or Loïc Touzé’s Forme Simple? Hard to say. Last year, for instance, over a bit fewer than 30 days, June Events featured more than 100 dance and musical performers and presented 30 creations, 16 of them new. The Atelier de Paris-Carolyn Carlson, currently under the direction of Anne Sauvage, took up residence at the Cartoucherie in 1999. Since its founding, it has become a key player in dance performance development. As coordinating organization for Paris Réseau Dance, it collaborates creatively with dance and performance innovators at Etoile du Nord, the Regard du cygne studio and MICADANCE-ADDP. Photo©RaphaëlStora From “Cellule”... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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"La Petite Collection" 2018 exhibition of original post-card size miniatures by contemporary French visual artists takes place from 6 to 15 December at Galerie Bertrand Grimont, 42-44 rue de Montmorency 75002 Paris. Works from La Petite Collection 4ème Edition and previous shows can be seen and purchased on the web. See the links below - Artist: Pat Andrea In past times, when la Joyeuse Fête wasn’t just Karine and I getting as sloppy as politeness will bear on other people’s liquor and dancing in New Year at a German opera, my son Boo’s enthusiasm for progress and self-improvement would sometimes flag. In such moments of childish despair, I would wag my index finger gravely and say to my sweet boy, “Soft trousers, Boo. Soft trousers, man”. He would laugh and buck right up, as if I’d popped a Sugar Puff Blaster into that cute little cupid-bow bouche. “Soft trousers” is our way of naming "true progress". It was our little joke then, as it still is now. It comes from reading Raymond Briggs’ Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age. Briggs is also the author of that sublime Winter’s Tale, The Snowman. Ug, the boy genius, was the first to see that soft trousers would be a vast improvement over stone trousers. Lucky for us. How then in stone trousers would we dance Salsa? And what would tailors be? As well as lifting and soothing Boo’s progress-and-improve blues, Ug also commented my own childhood without my having to utter a single word. This interested my Boo, you bet. Achieving soft trousers requires genius and good humor, certainly, but, especially, a vision and footwork. Artist: Nathalie Sizaret Artist: Anahaita Masoudi Giving potential art-buyers an opportunity to look at a wide but manageable variety of the visual work of artists that gallerists, exhibitors and fellow creators think are the best on the market, Florence Lucas’ La Petite Collection has achieved soft trousers in the realm of appreciating and buying visual art. Artist: Caroline Ballet Each Petite Collection creator produces two 10cm x 15cm (4- by 6-inch) originals that sell for an affordable 150€ apiece. And, as over its three previous years, the Petite Collection will this year present examples of work by not fewer than 100 contemporary visual artists in postcard format. A complete list of contributors figures at the end of the article. Artist: Rachel Marks Creator contributors are selected by Lucas who, with the help of friends and colleagues, puts together a list of the best work encountered at galleries and exhibitions during the year past. She makes her call for contributions in Spring. Artist: Daniel Otero Torres Contributors may be entirely new on the scene or have already shown. New or established artist or not, the selection process means that artists are effectively vetted twice – by the gallerist or exhibition curator, as well by Lucas. Lucas says she makes her choice of Artist: Célia Coette contributors on what she calls the “interest” of their work in terms of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Photo: “Evol” © Herman Sorgeloos “Evol”– an anagram of “love” which also recalls “evolution” – shares the love of the bodies of the dancers and the beauty of their movements … [The Angels] see cleary that [Humans] are not really at home in the interpreted world. Perhaps there remains some tree on a slope, that we can see again each day: there remains to us yesterday’s street, and the thinned-out loyalty of a habit that liked us, and so stayed, and never departed. First Duino Elegy, Rainier Marie Rilke (A. S. Kline) “There is something of Giselle in it,” said I to Karine, darkly, after seeing Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s Verklärte Nacht (“Transfigured Night”) the other evening at the Espace Cardin. It’s not that I object to the hokey melodrama; neither Karine nor I are strangers to inconvenient evolutions of affection, god knows. Emotive incontinence or problematic pregnancy, either, for that matter. But. I meant to tell her that Giselle or Verklärte Nacht or most other ballet-classic dance pieces use the body to tell a story rather than using the body so that it tells some-body’s story. So, I think the need to tell Verklärte Nacht’s story – de Keersmaeker wrote the choreography for the music, after all – means that the fluidity of Samantha van Wissen’s modern-dance expressionism (of bodily feeling and emotion) must necessarily stumble over Schoenberg’s made-just-for-ballet-style melodrama. Photo: “Verklärte Nacht”, Courtesy Festival d’Automne She’s pregnant by one man but loves another. But what’s hers will be his says the beloved. Since the whole strength of Claire Croizé’s Evol – which opened at the Théâtre de la Bastille not too terribly long ago – is that the some-bodies tell themselves, there’s no worry of expression stumbling over a story. The art in Croizé’s choreography is in keeping the way wide enough for improvisation that works as performance; she does that. Inspired by Rainier Marie Rilke’s Duino Elegies, which hold that a human being exists outside of thought, belief, tradition, philosophy and religion, Croizé says the idea behind Evol - an anagram of “love” which also recalls “evolution” - is “to share the love of the bodies of the dancers and the beauty of their movements”. As Evol goes forward, sometimes accompanied by music from David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, sometimes by silence, performers improvise personal movement that expresses their different personalities. Evol opens with the cast spreading itself in a diagonal line, back corner to front corner, across the stage, giving the impression of a spray of salt or of flower petals. Two women performers – I identified them as “Blue” and “Grey” in my notes – detach. They remain non-positioning in respect to each other as they dance silence, though it does seem that Grey uses her body as a semaphore from go; from this begins an almost by-the-numbers introduction of personalities, of some-bodies. I was struck by what seemed an almost continuous signaling and semaphoring, although it Hands and arms point and wave more than propel... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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In hip hop, the cultural power of African-America has combined the radical politics of Thomas Jefferson with the radical humanism of Ralph Waldo Emerson to create the first true universal citizens living out a first truly global culture. Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Photo: Courtesy Lafayette Anticipations As in any virtual amusement park, Mr & Ms Public must take a ticket and patiently wait their turn to ride Simon Fujiwara’s empathy machine, now at Lafayette Anticipations in the Marais Move over Woody Allen. An empathy machine, pictured above, trumps the filmmaker's celebrated Banana's orgasmatron, at least as an opening image for Simon Fujiwara’s Revolution installations at Lafayette Anticipations’ new spaces in the Marais, which run until the first week of January 2019. Fujiwara's machine, actually called Empathy1 simulator, and installed on the ground floor of the building, is complementary to three installations on two upper floors. Each installation points and questions the volume and ubiquity of images and image technology and the representation of self. All are esthetic and emotional successes. Such success is certainly owing to Fujiwara’s effective execution of his concepts and intentions but also I think to the very skillful configuration of the building’s modular space: there is an extra-fine touch at work in light and surface, in empty and full, in distance, dimension and position. Revolution is a first solo show in France for Fujiwara - a multidisciplinary artist who has worked at the Tate and MOMA, as well as in Berlin & Tokyo - and follows on an earlier collaboration with the foundation and Centre Pompidou. Empathy 1, constructed by a simulation-equipment manufacturer on the artist’s concept, is a real sit-down-strap-in experience that uses YouTube footage, amusement park ride-like movement, strobe, rushing air and splashing water to create a simulation of life that is “truer than Disney”, I heard Fujiwara say, and which he describes as a “sculptural experience”: riders find it fun. The installations upstairs include a Happiness Museum, which breaks down happiness to data and artefacts, a still and film presentation of a certain Joanne Salley, and, on the top floor, a wax figure representing Anne Frank. Salley is a former art teacher of Fujiwara whose career was ruined when some British tabloid published pictures of her with her breasts exposed; Anne Frank is of course one of the most moving symbols of the horror of the Shoah. Photo: Courtesy Lafayette Anticipations Joanne Salley lost control of her image when a tabloid published photos of her with her breasts uncovered. She is determined to get it back and rebrand Fashionista-style photo posters fixed to a sort of raised platform or plinth hide as much as they reveal the energetic, classy, athletic, lovely, lively, cool, etc., etc., etc. Joanne Salley they depict. Embedded behind this… monument(?) … is a screen showing a continuous loop documentary, featuring Salley, of Salley’s effort to regain control of Salley’s image, an image that came to control Salley; no victim, Salley’s determined to recapture the “Salley brand”. The documentary’s story line carries you through this latter irony and pushes you on to the uncomfortable realization that indiscreet breast handling in the 21st century will get an unwary female punished, severely (and didn’t it recently happen to a competitor at a world-level tennis... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Karine says Slow Walk is meditation; Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker says walking is her dance; Kata says we dance because we are otherwise alone. Cute shoes As part of the Festival d’Automne’s tribute to her work, the choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker led a “Slow Walk” – actually five walks of about three-quarters of a mile over four hours from different points around the Place de la République, the rally point – a place Karine and I haven’t seriously been since the popular rally for liberal values following the appalling 2015 mass murders here in Paris. Since it costs nothing and requires a unique human skill, walking always speaks to us. So, this past Sunday, first day of Fall, ‘though it was mostly raining in that sudden, voluminous, gatling-gun way it rains these days, we went in for a Slow Walk. For de Keersmaeker, a Slow Walk is “Just walk. Slow down the rhythm and rediscover your joints, your pulse, your weight and slip into another relationship with time and movement”. Most Slow Walkers translated de Keersmaeker’s idea, as Karine did, as a very slow, deliberate step, one foot in front of the other, at a pace 16-times slower than an average one. Karine says a Slow Walk is a meditation. I didn’t look at it this way, though; I live to move and move to live; standing still is not my usual way to understanding. Also, I no longer do anything that makes me uncomfortable, like stand in the rain, unless the payback is way above real or analogous minimum wage, or there’s just no help for it. The slogan of the Slow Walk was “My walking is my dance”. I chose to translate that into a Slow Walk in the way any other cheerful four-year old would: by moving my butt in a way I hoped would attract attention, chatting up strangers and as often as possible sloughing off to get cake and ice cream and out of the rain. Once all of us diverse and differently-abled slow walkers had arrived at the Place de la République, the rain stopped. The sky cleared slightly, even, and, standing beneath the monumental statue of Marianne and her friends Liberté, Egalité Fraternité, de Keersmaeker gave us a dance lesson: had us running this way and that way, fast and slow, hopping, flailing and stretching across the square. When de Keersmaeker had us all warmed up, we danced both rainlessly and brainlessly together for a bit under an hour. A big change from last time, but not so much of one as you might think. Then, as the rain began again, we all quickly scattered to the four metros and homeward. At home, I found a note from Kata. Since she has been back in Japan, she wrote, she has been thinking about Why do we dance? She had one possible response; she wanted to share it. “We dance because we long to see our friends‘ perspectives,” she wrote. “We cannot experience... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Performing over better than three hours, LNI never, ever, slipped into any other mode than iconic… Mes absences sont du sentiment - “Christine” – Christine & the Queens Multidisciplinary artist LNI’s Le Baiser de la pute/Kiss of the whore performance piece, which I experienced at FRASQ#2 performance art program last summer at the Générateur de Gentilly, is a good illustration of how a performance piece can impose itself as any other work of art can: through a combination of right theme, right action, right time, right place. As a person who can’t, or won’t, sit peacefully at home – I have many brothers and sisters in this family I think – it might be said of us that we liked LNI’s piece because it gave us something to do in the evening. Or because we are ferocious. Or because I’m a dirty old man. Or because Karine is a cougar. True enough in one respect. If not gadding the evening away out and about, I lie restless and disgruntled on the couch. True, she busies herself, furious, damn her. I furiously jiggle my legs more than usual as she works out her désoeuvrement by swiping at stuff with a rag dangling from the tips of her long, dry, strong, sharply nailed, fingers, what she calls “tidying” but is really self-medication. Poor woman, brought up girl. And my désoeuvrement does not cry out to her, “Be still thou unquiet heart!” seize and plunge those long, hard fingers into my raging flesh. Instead, brought up boy, poor man, my mind’s eye begins contemplating in the smear of unwashed windows the heavier fecal matter of what’s left of our nasty, short and brutish lives as they sink toward the unclean bottom of this overheated, under-oxygenated gutter we absurdly call a life. In such circumstances, it is far, far better to take each other by the hand and boldly venture into the world of performance art. Is it not? Unstill lives apart, the whole truth is that – my girl and me – we like performance art because a one-time live performance like LNI’s Le Baiser has the same potential esthetic depth as Tristan and Isolde or The Nightwatch. LNI is able to perfectly project the heart and soul of one of those Catholic devotional cards Deliberately not hemmed in by a lot of conventional or customary constraints, as are more formal modern and contemporary genres, live performance art is always a lot more accessible, which is one of the reasons why I suppose it’s developed so much over the last 50 years or so. The uniqueness inherent in the ephemerality of live performance generally – Tristan or Le Baiser and especially “performance art” – “events”, “happenings” and “situations”, indeed, any un-nameable, bound-and-determined Queen-Elizabeth look-alike setting fire to a brace of milk-fed pink kittens – lends all performance, including “performance art” intrinsic value. But the particular value of performance art is not just in its uniqueness but also its performance: Tatsachen (“fact” in German)... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2018 at The Best American Poetry